Former Waitress Claims Eric Ripert Allows Sexual Harassment At Le Bernardin: Lawsuit

A lawsuit filed January 24 by former Le Bernardin waitress Kristin Avery has criticized chef Eric Ripert for speaking out against sexual misconduct in the restaurant industry, alleging that the same sort of behavior takes place in Ripert's own restaurant.

After accusations against Mario Batali emerged in December, Ripert tweeted that "treating anyone with less than the utmost respect is completely unacceptable." However, Avery's lawsuit alleges that Ripert oversaw an environment rife with harassment at his midtown Manhattan restaurant, according to court documents reported by the New York Post.

"Unfortunately, the workplace realities at Le Bernardin do not match the sentiment in ... Ripert's tweet," Avery's lawyer, Maimon Kirschenbaum, wrote in the suit.

Avery worked at Le Bernardin between 2012 and 2015. The suit alleges that during that time she complained several times to the Michelin three-star restaurant's general manager about sexual harassment by male restaurant staff. The suit names Ripert and Le Bernardin (where a prix fixe dinner runs $160) along with co-owner Maguy Le Coze, who Avery alleges touched her midsection and told her it was "important" to lose weight after the birth of her daughter in 2015.

The former employee is seeking unspecified damages for discrimination "on the basis of her gender and caregiver status." Ripert told the New York Post that the allegations are "completely false" and that he and Le Coze are looking forward to defending themselves in court.

The Daily Meal has reached out to both parties for comment on the matter.